Wednesday, 18 November 2020 22:55

Seven Charged in Connection With COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme Worth Approximately $16 Million


Seven individuals across two states were charged in an indictment unsealed Nov. 17 for their alleged participation in a scheme to obtain approximately $16 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Amir Aqeel, 52, and Pardeep Basra, 51, both of Houston, TX; Rifat Bajwa, 51, of Richmond, TX; Mayer Misak, 40, of Cypress, TX; Mauricio Navia, 41, of Katy, TX; and Richard Reuth, 57, of Spring, TX, were expected to make their initial appearances Nov. 17 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew M. Edison.


They are all charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. The indictment also charges Aqeel with three counts of money laundering.


Also named in the Houston indictment is Siddiq Azeemuddin, 41, of Naperville, IL. He also faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Azeemuddin was to appear Nov. 17 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Heather K. McShain of the Northern District of Illinois.
“These defendants allegedly participated in a scheme to capitalize on the pandemic by filing at least 80 fraudulent PPP applications and enriching themselves by $16 million, spending it on luxury items such as a Porsche and Lamborghini automobiles,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue those who would seek to illegally exploit the ongoing national emergency for their own benefit.”


“Some fraudsters create the most complicated schemes to steal money from the taxpayer. Just imagine how productive they could be if they put their creativity and effort into noble and useful work,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas. “With the great work of so many partner agencies, we will bring to justice those who steal from the treasury.”
The indictment alleges all conspired to submit more than 80 fraudulent PPP loan applications by falsifying the number of employees and...

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